Written by U.S. Army Sgt. Jake Marlin, 11th Public Affairs Detachment
PAKTIYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Afghan firefighters on Forward Operating Base Thunder train daily to be ready to respond to fires.
On May 21 smoke and flames from several structure fires on FOB Lightning caught everyone’s attention; including the firefighters on FOB Thunder. Afghan Soldiers rushed to aid their Coalition Forces counterparts. It was time to put all of their training to the test.
PAKTIYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Smoke from a fire on Forward Operating Base Lightning drifts into the sky May 21. Afghan firefighters from the 203rd Afghan National Army Corps Fire Department assisted Coalition Forces in extinguishing the blaze. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Jake Marlin
With sirens blaring, the Soldiers of the 203rd Afghan National Army Corps Fire Department rushed from their station to the blaze located just inside the entry control point to the FOB. Immediately they went to work securing the area and setting up to battle the inferno. By the time they arrived, several buildings were already fully engulfed by flames.
“When we got to the fire, it was so intense we had to stay back,” said ANA Staff Sgt. Lalwazir, driver and firefighter for the 203rd Corps. “We contained the fire until we could get close enough.”
To Lalwazir and the rest of the Afghan firefighters on the scene, it didn’t matter what was on fire, it was their job to put it out.
“It doesn’t matter if it is civilians, nomads, Afghans or Americans. We are firefighters and we will come to help,” says Lalwazir.
When the Afghan Soldiers on FOB Thunder found out structures on FOB Lightning were on fire, many rushed to help. One Soldier who came to the scene was the 203rd ANA Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Habidullah Chamkani.
“I am so proud of my non-commissioned officers and Soldiers who went and fought the fire. They worked shoulder to shoulder with the Americans,” said Chamkani.
Afghan firefighters go through training in Kabul before being sent to departments throughout Afghanistan, but their training doesn’t stop there. At FOB Thunder, the firefighters go through class room training and even battle controlled fires to ensure they are ready when the call comes.
“We do classes and even fight fires out on the ranges to keep up with our training when we are not working,” said ANA Master Sgt. Mirghulam, the NCOIC of the FOB Thunder fire department.
Without the Afghan firefighters battling the fire, all of FOB Lightning could have been destroyed, added Mirghulam.
When the smoke cleared over the FOB, the fire was out, no one was injured, and the fire only destroyed a few buildings. Without the help of the Afghan firefighters on FOB Thunder, it could have been worse.
“I am proud of my Soldiers. It was a testament to their training that they were able to put the fire out,” said Mirghulam.